Volkswagen today announced that production of the current, third-generation Beetle will end in July 2019, with a special Final Edition trim, shown above, serving as the model's send-off.
This story was originally published 03/07/2018 when VW first confirmed it was planning to kill the Beetle. It was updated on 9/13/2018 with the announcement of the Final Edition commemorative model.
Introduced in 2011, the current Beetle is only the third generation of model, based on the front-wheel drive platform of the MkVI Golf. It followed the so-called New Beetle, which was in production from 1997 to 2011.
In a statement, VW Group of America head Hinrich Woebcken reflected on the end of this icon, while providing some hope for the Beetle's possible return as an electric car.
The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans. As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the US and ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace it. But as we have seen with the I.D. Buzz—which is the modern and practical interpretation of the legendary Bus—I would also say, "Never say never."
The I.D. Buzz that Woebcken refers to is VW's upcoming retro-inspired minivan, set to be built on the brand's new electric-car platform. Last year, VW boss Herbert Diess said he would consider making a new Beetle using this platform. VW's first electric car, the I.D. hatchback, should arrive in 2020, and the automaker is positioning it as an affordable, stylish city car—a Beetle for the 21st century.
The Final Edition Beetle pays tribute to the last iteration of the original, rear-engine Beetle, which was built in Mexico in 2003. Those Última Edición Beetles were available in beige or light blue, and featured lots of chrome detailing and other retro bits.
Buyers of the Final Edition Beetle will be able to opt for a coupe or convertible in either SE or SEL trim levels. The cheapest will be the SE coupe at $23,000, while the $30,000 SEL convertible will be the most expensive. All will come equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making 174 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque paired to a six-speed automatic.
Below is our original story on the announcement of the Beetle's cancellation, published on March 7, 2018:
Frank Welsch, R&D boss for Volkswagen, there will be no replacement for the current Beetle in the company's lineup. The retro-inspired slot will instead be occupied by VW's all-electric microbus, the I.D. Buzz.
Currently, Volkswagen offers the Beetle as a coupe or convertible, as well as a special "Dune" edition. According to previous rumors, production could end as soon as this year, while arrival for the production version of the I.D. Buzz isn't expected until 2022.
The new Beetle has been in production since 1997, with a new generation arriving in 2011. Before that was the classic Beetle, a rear-engine, air-cooled two-door considered to be the one of most important cars of the 20th century.
There's no word on whether Volkswagen will bring back the Beetle in the future, but considering it's done it once before, we don't see why it couldn't happen again, should the market demand it.